He could have been the greatest of them all

He could have been the greatest of them all


norman lebrecht

May 17, 2014

Ivry Gitlis is a legend among violinists.

Few understand why he is not more famous than Menuhin and Stern. Watch. Listen.
ivry gitlis
Ivry understands.


  • Francis Wood says:

    Certainly an impressive violinist but the goulash-style is really not good for the Debussy sonata!

  • Boris says:

    Fame is for sensationalists. He’s still here being Ivry and inspiring those who seek him out.

  • Michael Endres says:

    Perhaps, perhaps not.
    The competition is stiff out there ,and Heifetz and Oistrach as serious contenders too.

    For me the “should have been the greatest of them all ” always will be Josef Hassid.
    His playing is utterly haunting.
    The comment of Fritz Kreisler “A Heifetz violinist comes around every 100 years, a Hassid every 200 ” seems no exaggeration to me.
    He has only left very few short EMI test pressings, but each of them is unique.

  • m2n2k says:

    He is less famous than Stern because he was never as good at promoting himself as Stern was. Very few are.
    He is less famous than Menuhin because the latter’s tone was much more interesting and expressive and because Menuhin was a more versatile musician.
    In this video, the most convincing and successful performance is of the piece by Wieniawski because Gitlis’ style suits it almost perfectly.

  • Jonathon Higgins says:

    Goulash Style??? France is one of the few countries to fully appreciate the extraordinary talent of Ivry Gitlis. He lived and studied there from the age of 11 and through his teacher Marcel Chailley became acquainted with the likes of Georges Enescu and Jacques Thibaud, later studying with both men after having won the premier prize at the Paris Conservatoire. After a period of living in America he returned to Paris and he remains there today, a man steeped in French culture. His performance of the Debussy is raw, authentic, I felt as if I was hearing the piece for the first time watching the video, almost as if he was improvising. A true and rare artist!

  • Vince says:

    I personally was never fond of the tone that came from his violin. It has a lightness to it that is great for countless works for violin, but just isn’t convincing in works such as the Sibelius and Brahms concerto. I would describe him as the complete opposite of David Oistrakh.

  • The presentation and discussion concerning Josef Hassid “He could have been the greatest of them all” which appeared on May 17, 2014 cannot (on September 30,2020) be retrieved. Is there anyway the content therein can be retrieved?